Dubai's oldest five-star hotel aims to end a turbulent year on a high by spreading some much-needed Christmas cheer.
The Radisson Blu Hotel in Dubai Deira Creek, is expecting up to 600 guests for brunch on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the property, which prides itself on offering the traditional festive experience.
Staff at the hotel, which opened 45 years ago, have formed their own choir who will be performing for guests throughout the week.
The Covid-19 pandemic is blighting the lives of people around the world, but the holiday season offers an opportunity for welcome respite from the troubles of 2020.
“This has been a challenging year but we are seeing there is a real demand from people who want to enjoy Christmas,” said Niccolo Rossi, the property’s executive assistant manager.
“We are not seeing as many tourists as usual this year, for obvious reasons, but there is a huge increase in people who want to take staycations.
“We are expecting the guests will be made up of at least 70 per cent from people who live in the UAE.
“While we won’t have as many guests as last year, we are really close to that number. We have to adhere to strict social distancing to ensure that everyone remains safe.”
The hotel is certainly leaving nothing to chance to ensure the next two weeks run smoothly, right up until New Year’s Eve.
Staff will prepare 250 turkeys, 100 beef wellingtons, 50 roast legs of lamb, 150 yule logs, 500 kilograms of carrots and 600 litres of turkey gravy to ensure guests are well fed over the festive period.
There will also be 600 guests on New Year’s Eve who will be celebrating across two venues in the hotel.
Another trend is the number of people who will be ordering their Christmas dinner from the hotel. Mr Rossi said they have 400 confirmed bookings so far for deliveries from now until New Year’s Eve.
“People really want to enjoy themselves this Christmas,” he said.
“Everyone is determined to make the most of it after the year we have had.”
The commitment of the hotel to get into the spirit of Christmas is apparent, with huge trees and lavish decorations throughout the property.
Even the laundry room has a section cordoned off for Santa Claus costumes as the last-minute preparations were made.
This month, several Dubai hoteliers told The National they were expecting to see a strong demand for Christmas and New Year to help them bounce back from the effects of the pandemic – which inflicted huge losses on the global hospitality industry because of travel restrictions.
That confidence was reflected by the fact the 288-room hotel was completely booked out until New Year's Eve.
“There is a real festive feeling all around the property, people are excited and we want to make the hotel feel like a second home over the holidays for our guests,” Mr Rosso said.
“We will be doing our very best to make that happen.”
The celebrations at the hotel go well beyond the customary Christmas decorations and employees wearing Santa Claus costumes for a few hours.
The hotel has a 12-strong choir made up of staff members who will perform Christmas favourites throughout the week.
“We will be singing each night at 7.30pm by the main Christmas tree in the lobby,” said Sherill Sosa, a member of the F&B team who is the longest-serving member of the choir after joining 12 years ago.
“We have 12 members in the choir. We used to be called The Festive Divas but this year we had to change our name to The Festive Choir because two male staff members joined us.”